Tuesday, February 23, 2010

all about shaping my heart

There is a family I know. I know them in the course of seeking God. My dearest friend are those I find along the straight and narrow. They have been a distance from those they know here in Florida for a while now. The text below is a record of an amazing experience Lindsey had in her journey in time. It is also a testimony to the One who she is on this journey with. God has blessed her with a family second to none. Family is a little slice of heaven on earth and one of God’s single greatest foreshadowing's of the life to come. No one gets to keep their family forever here on earth and the lesson to learn from Lindsey’s thoughtful writing is simple and sweet. Thank you Lindsey for using your life to enrich ours.


What is Lipoprotein (a)? Your guess is as good as mine. My doc calls it "LP little a". It's a marker for heart disease. Are you bored with this post already? They really don't know what it does or what affects it but they know that if your number is high, you're in trouble...

my number is high...real high.

In my case, they think it weakens the walls of my arteries and they collapse. I'm not a clogged up girl but my walls are weak and they fall. When they fall, I do the heart attack thing. Here's the story:

That much beloved photo above, is my dad and me (that's correct English, btw) at Georgia Tech homecoming in fall of 1968. He was 45 and I was 4. He died of his third heart attack within the year at a train station in Leningrad, Russia. He was taking a group of students to Russia...they were some of the first Americans allowed in that country during the Cold War. I'm the youngest of 5 children.

Digest that for awhile.

I know this sounds a little grim so far but truly....the Lp (a), is such a gift. I'm not just being Polly Anna meets Holly Golightly. You'll see, in part 3...it's all about the heart.

My Nutcracker daughter began praying for a baby sister when she was 3 years old. Every night she prayed the same prayer. "Lord, please bless our family with a baby". She meant it. It was earnest. Just like the Persistent Widow. Little did she know, My Hero and I had already been "trying" since the Nutcracker was born. Well...

We gave up after 5 years. We wondered if we should tell her to stop praying. We stopped praying for a baby but she did not. We gave up on God and surrendered to "His Will". "Should we tell her to stop praying...it's just not happening and that's OK. "

Oh to have the faith of a child. We came to her 6 months later and told her that God had answered her prayer...we would have a baby.

9 months later - my due date arrives and passes - nothing going on in the dilation department. However, in the middle of the night, I began vomiting uncontrollably. Not sick. Not nauseated. Just vomiting. Fast forward to the hospital...still vomiting hours later...docs can't figure it out. My heart beat starts dropping to the low 30's. Doc says,

"We're losing Mama" A quick c-section later: a beautiful baby girl.

I came out of recovery with unbearable neck pain. (keep that in mind for Part 3). An undiagnosed heart attack, atypical signs (vomiting and neck pain) more common in child birth than you think.

10 days later - I experienced a full blown heart attack. Awoken from an afternoon nap while holding my newborn, crushing chest pain and no breath. I prayed, "Please Lord, let this be my last breath". I was drowning. I wanted to go ahead...it was really Ok with me.

My son, 9 years old at the time, made Baby Girl a bottle and changed her diaper, all while watching me about to...

Things subsided and I called 911.

911 guys arrived...get this...I offered them ice tea (manners are everything, aren't they). Not really in the moment, was I.

2 stents later, and this diagnosis: Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (say that 10 times fast)

I'm here. They're here. It's all about..."repairing" the heart.

This is 3 weeks after "My James Bond moment" (the helicopter ride) - I used it as my Christmas card this year, ...no matching clothes, no fancy poses, just happy to be together.

Here's the end of the story:

Remember that neck pain I was telling you about? Well, it popped up on me while at the beach in June 2008 (6 months ago), just 3 weeks after my mother passed away. It scared me that I may be having another heart attack. My tests came back abnormal and I had a heart catherization. Nothing showed up, still in pain, we started on the 6 hour drive home.

In the car, 5 hours into the trip, I felt that artery (in the groin) burst open internally. It felt like something (blood) running loose around your body...very strange. It's odd how you know when something is really wrong and this time I knew something was really wrong.

I slumped over in my seat, blood was no longer feeding my organs. My Hero is driving like a maniac trying to get me to a hospital. Feeling all the strength leave me, knowing soon I would not be able to speak, .......I said good-bye to my family. Hardest thing I've ever had to do.

"I don't think I'm going to make it, keep your eyes on Christ, I love all of you so much, I will be in heaven, Daddy will take good care of you"...and that was all I could get out.

Everyone is crying and my middle child, normally quiet, reserved, composed, was yelling, "No Mom, no..hold on, don't die". At that point, I wanted so badly to reassure her but I couldn't talk and I looked like a rag doll, slumped head over knees in the car seat. The vascular pain had kicked in at this point and I knew this was the end of me.

I got to a small hospital where they gave me the maximum amount of morphine allowed but it didn't affect the pain. In my mind, body in convulsions, I cried out to God, to my mother and that's when I went into shock. What a blessing. Honestly, I was thinking about soldiers and how they bleed to death in this same way.

It's midnight at this point, I'll let you imagine the scene of My Hero and children in the waiting room.

After 2 hours of not being able to stabilize me, they life flighted me to a larger hospital. A sweet, 75 year old Greek vascular surgeon, at 3:00 a.m. hastily cut me open, repaired the artery and told my husband, "She had 10-20 minutes left". 12 units of blood later, I'm here. You only have 8 units to begin with. Just for the record...my nurse told me that only 1 out of 6 life flighters make it. Lovely.

Now about that gift: the inherited heart problems from my father, the LP (a). It has changed my perspective. I've come close twice. So why is it a gift...because now, I look for the sweetness in life, I cherish every exchange with those I love most. Every walk around the block holding a hand is precious, every sunrise is breathtaking, every book read to my Baby Girl could be my last, it all becomes a matter or perspective, I cherish it all, good and bad. It's a gift.

In the end, He doesn't make mistakes, He works all things for good. He, God is, ....all about shaping my heart.

Written by: Lindsey

Do you know that you are in the same situation as this woman I know. It may not be because you have a similar struggle with your health. It is however a result of the same thing. God gave His creation a responsibility. A choice to maintain our relationship with him. A warning that to seek to have the knowledge good and evil will cause you to die.

We all die and not one of us gets to choose when and where. Love in every moment by the grace of God as if it is your last among the those who have not passed from death unto life.